State Board accepts vaping recommendationsLeah Fliter
The Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday endorsed the recommendations of its Work Group on Vaping/E-Cigarettes in School. In addition to immediate prevention measures, the group proposed the Board support a formal Task Force to continue work on the issue.
At its May meeting, the Board heard a report on an explosive increase in the number of young people using e-cigarettes, a practice commonly called “vaping,” which can deliver high quantities of nicotine and other harmful chemicals through a liquid. One popular device uses pods that contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. The pods come in flavors such as cool mint and fruit medley.
From 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use by U.S. high school students increased 78 percent, from 11.7 percent to 20.8 percent. In 2017, almost 35 percent of Kansas high school students reported they’d tried e-cigarettes and 10.6 percent said they regularly used them. Alarmed by those statistics, Board members in May directed Education Commissioner Randy Watson to immediately form a working group that would present recommendations within thirty days. KASB Senior Attorney Angie Stallbaumer represented KASB on the working group.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Board Member Ann Mah endorsed the group’s recommendations for education and outreach but asked if formal school district policies were urgently needed. Watson said KASB routinely offers policy updates to its members, and KASB Attorney Ashley Rohleder told Board members the newest set of updates, available now, includes new language prohibiting “nicotine delivery devices.”
Watson urged local school boards to consider publicly adopting the new anti-vaping policies to demonstrate the urgency of the prevention effort. “We haven’t seen an addiction issue like this in our lifetimes,” he said.
The Working Group’s recommendations were:
- Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, offer education to school staff, students, parents and the general public on the dangers of e-cigarette use/vaping; publicize information on the rebate and increase of use of e-cigarettes from the Communities that Care Survey and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey; the evolution of nicotine delivery systems; the pattern of initiation of sue of e-cigarettes; best practices and sample policies and procedures; and distribution of a Kansas Vape-Free Schools Toolkit and school signage;
- Form a task force including representatives from KSDE, the State Board, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KASB, the state legislature, the Governor’s office, the Kansas Attorney General’s office, and a number of other education and health organizations. Watson said the Task Force will bring monthly updates to the State Board, beginning in July;
- Add vaping content to state curricular standards for Health Education; and
- Create a central web-based hub for information about vaping.